Ben and Sue Niemann traveled to Redlands, CA earlier this month for the Esri GeoDesign Summit and delivered a presentation entitled “GeoDesign: Tools for Reasoning Together.” The presentation offered Wisconsin’s approach to GeoDesign, that Ben et. al. termed “Planning Analyst” in the late 90’s early 2000’s. It offered more recent GeoDesign work from the Moose Lake Legacy Initiative and the Waupaca County Comprehensive Planning effort. The premise: with access to GeoDesign tools, GeoData, and some professional assistance, citizens can make well-informed decisions that affect their places.
Jack Dangermond attended Ben’s presentation during the concurrent sessions and commented to both Sue and Ben, “I think the ‘humanization’ of your efforts is very important to our efforts to make GIS a relevant technology.” This comment is in stark contrast to many other GeoDesign speakers that describe and apply a top down, professionals’ approach to GeoDesign, rather than a grassroots, bottom-up approach used here in Wisconsin.
Ben is a widely-recognized Professor Emeritus from UW-Madison known for his innovative land information and planning work not just in Wisconsin, but nationally as well. He was the lead author of “Citizen Planners: Shaping Communities with Spatial Tools,” published by Esri Press in January 2011. Ben and Sue currently reside in Sawyer County, WI.